A Few New Additions, Changes, and Optimizations
Ok, so last night, instead of putting my new processor and motherboard into my computer (the upgrades can wait a few hours), I spent that time optimizing my website a bit. I was able to accomplish some pretty amazing results:
- Change WordPress Themes – I wanted to switch the theme to something “lighter” than the one I previously had. I wasn’t using all the features so there were a lot of resources being wasted – I switched to CatchBox.
Don’t get me wrong; I loved the theme I had before (Newsroom by WPBandit); I just don’t see the point in using built-in SEO features if I use a plugin (SEO Ultimate) to manage my on-page SEO.
The switch in themes brought my Page Speed up by about 20%!
- Using the PageSpeed Insights app by Google, I was able to pinpoint what factors were slowing down my page load time (such as iframes, etc.), and replace them with images and direct links where possible.
- I also enabled Caching and Page Compression on this website using the plugin W3 Total Cache; this improved my Page Speed quite a bit as well.
Overall, my pagespeed score is more than double what it was before and as I write this, I’m sitting at a very comfortable score of 91 for my home page (a very good thing). The inner pages will be slightly slower loading simply because of the “like/share” buttons.
User Experience Upgrades
- I went with the simpler theme that (at least in my opinion) looks easier on the eyes.
- I’ve customized the sidebar a bit (I know I have more work to do in that department, like add categories; that will come *soon* after the re-brand) to not be as cluttered.
- I’ve replaced my previous social sharing app (Share-a-holic) plugin with Digg Digg by Bufferapp; this gave me a few more points on the PageSpeed scale after some modifications as well.
- The sidebar saw a new additions
- Affiliate link ads (125×125 blocks).
- A neater emailing list subscribe option.
- “Prettified” the Social Sharing buttons by turning on the side-scrolling share bar (Digg Digg plugin) and prettier “boxy” buttons at the bottoms of the post(s).
Goals / Conversions Optimization
I’m not super famous, nor am I super well known; I don’t get people flooding my website and subscribing to my mailing list (which I don’t use very often; planning on fixing that soon though!)… I do, however, provide a useful resource, and get people subscribing to my mailing list on a daily basis. My gripe with the previous design was that I was not able to show off the sign-up form very easily before. That’s changed.
I’ve set two widgets to scroll with the page after a certain amount of scrolling… As a matter of fact, by the time you’re reading this sentence, you should already see what I’m talking about on your right – The Ads widget and the Mailing List widget should both be scrolling with the screen.
The changes I’ve done to improve my goals and conversions are:
- Installing the Q2w3 “Fixed Widget” plugin that allows me to force my widgets to scroll with the screen.
- “Prettified” some of the CSS around the Mailing List form (and a few other subtle tweaks to the theme).
- The page load speeds are also meant for visitor conversions; I will report on how these changes affected the mailing list sign-up conversions soon.
What do you think of the new design and speed? Do you see anything else that I need to fix?